Reggae legend Lee “Scratch” Perry passes away at 85

Daniel Boczarski/Redferns

The music world is mourning one of its greats. Lee “Scratch” Perry, hailed for breaking boundaries for reggae and dub music during the ’60s and ’70s, has died at age 85.

The Jamaica Observer confirmed Perry’s passing, saying he died of an unspecified illness at Noel Holmes Hospital in his native Jamaica.

Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, mourned the legend on Twitter, writing, “My deep condolences to the family, friends, and fans of legendary record producer and singer, Rainford Hugh Perry OD, affectionately known as ‘Lee Scratch’ Perry.”

Perry, whose influential and innovative music style went beyond reggae and dub, is noted for altering a variety of music genres, such as hip hop and rock.  The singer also worked as a record producer and collaborated with acts such as Bob Marley & The WailersBeastie BoysThe Clash and many others.  His Black Ark studio also gained legendary status.

Perry was mourned by many in the music world, with Mike D of Beastie Boys writing, “We send the most love and respect we can to Lee Perry who passed today, to his family and loved ones and the many he influenced with his pioneering spirit and work. We are truly grateful to have been inspired by and collaborated with this true legend.”

Roots drummer Questlove also honored the late legend, writing, “Pure Innovation. Pure Imagination. This Man Was Plug Ins long before you studio cats today can simply press one button and instantly created sound chaos. Way before The Bomb Squad. The God Of Black Ark. the true Sound Journey. One of the most awe inspiring producer/engineers/visionaries.”

Living Colour tweeted Sunday, “We send love, light, respect, our condolences to the LEGENDARY Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and his family and fans worldwide! May his soul Rest In Peace!”

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